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Ask an Agent Q&A (Day 30)

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Happy dance. We have covered a ton of material this October about how to snag an agent. Has the series been helpful? If it has, would you mind sharing Day 1 with your friends and other writers? I’m going to leave this series up for a bit, then it will all come down so that I can make it into an e-book.

Also, all of the phone consultations have been amazing! I will take phone consult reservations through this Sunday only. I’m booking them out through next Wednesday, and then they will be closed until next Spring. I love all the stories that you have shared, and simply listening to your questions helps me grow as an agent. It’s always nice to hear what potential writers are struggling to understand, and to hear the different pains of being a creative pursuing publication.

With all that said, many of you have been asking about my #MSWL. What an agent needs/wants is forever changing. At the moment, here’s what I’m looking for:

Romance. No erotica. Clean and sweet. Something I could sell to Hallmark if I wanted to.

Suspense & Mystery. I have zero mystery novels right now. Mystery, oh mystery, wherefore art thou mystery? If you are CBA, I would love the writing clone of the following: Travis Thrasher. Frank Peretti. Billy Coffey. Come on over clones. If you are ABA, I’ll take the more PG-13 version of Gillian Flynn. I love her books, just not her F words.

Non-fiction. I will look at any non-fiction with a few exceptions. I do not want any devotional or Bible study proposals if you are CBA. I am full memoir-wise at the moment, although after Christmas, I’ll be ready for more of those projects. I have room for one more chef/foodie. I love bloggers with strong communities. I would love some unique lifestyle books for either market. I’d love some strong leadership books/books from women entrepreneurs/creative leaders.

Also, I am working on a personal project about angels. I am specifically collecting stories about possible encounters with angels. If you have an angel story, would you email me at: jessieekirkland@gmail.com and put “Angel Project” in the subject line. If I think your story is a fit, then I’ll include it in my book.

One final question that I’ve been asked this month…

Can you please, please give us some sort of number guidelines concerning platform?

Sigh. The million dollar question, yes? I’ll tell you what I am personally striving for with my own platform:

  • 5,000 emails, 5,000 FB likes, 5,000 Instagram followers, 25,000 hits a month for this blog.

My blog is 2 months new. These are my current goals. Once I hit it, I’ll double the goal. Ultimately, I’ll probably start feeling pretty good when my blog traffic is sitting at 200,000 hits a month, and my Facebook page and Instagram followers pass 10,000. I think I’ll re-fill my sweet tea, down a cupcake, lay in my hammock, and read a good book. But, until then, it’s time to hustle.

Thanks for hanging out with me here. I hope that you will stick around and do real life with me too. After all, my dog is bad, my feet are still growing, and soon we will be house hunting again. You can’t miss those details, right? One more tip for you tomorrow, until then…

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This series is part of the #Write31Days challenge. To read all the posts in this series click here.

 

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Ask an Agent Q&A (Day 29)

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I’ve been collecting questions from readers over the course of this series. I’ll spend today and tomorrow tackling these questions, and then I have one final tip for you on Saturday to close out our series.

What should writers focus more on, platform or their craft?

There are three main areas that publishers evaluate in regards to your submission: the strength of your writing voice & ability, your platform, and how unique your book idea is. Think about this:  If you are a self-published writer, you take out an ad on Book Bub, and a miracle happens…you give away 300,000 copies in a 24-hour campaign. If your craft is ready, those people will become fans. Your social media will grow, and it will be evident that your audience is growing because you wrote a great book. Do the same thing, but your craft isn’t ready—your plot has holes in it? You’ll give away 300,000 copies and you’ll never see those people again. The goal is to become a good writer, and then, word-of-mouth coupled with a consistent social media strategy will be a winning balance.

What are two of the most important qualities you want in a writer?

I want writers who are going to work hard. This industry is hard and it’s easy to give up when things don’t go your way. Agents want long-term relationships with their clients. And to have a long-term relationship, the writer has to keep writing, to keep trying, to keep working to get better. I also love someone with high creativity. I think you can study craft and teach yourself how to get better. It’s nice to sign writers with a plethora of ideas, writers with those brains that never stop thinking up new characters, new twists, and new ways to surprise the reader.

If an agent has had my submission for over a year, is that a no?

I don’t know that I have a definitive answer for this. My advice to you is that if you have been sitting in the slush pile for a while, check in once every 90 days. If you’ve been checking in once every 90 days, and a year has passed, and you’ve never gotten a response, then it might be a no. Or, it might be that the agent has not received your material. I’ve had people send me proposals, and they’ve ended up in spam or maybe my inbox was so full, I just didn’t see their material. The bottom line is, I wouldn’t believe my answer was a no until I got a written no or a verbal no at a conference. I do think when agents are interested, they tend to grab things up more quickly. But, there have been seasons where I just needed more time to review my pile.

More Q&A to come tomorrow!

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This series is part of the #Write31Days challenge. To read all the posts in this series click here.

 

 

 

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Books to Help You Master Your Craft (Day 28)

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Whew. October is finally coming to a close. I’m ready to put this series to bed and hop into November where turkey & dressing and Black Friday live together in harmony. I’m not gonna lie, it’s tough writing for 31 straight days without a break. If you’ve been writing your own 31 day series, give yourself a pat on the back, or better yet, go have a cupcake…or two.

I’ve had several of you ask about some resources that will help you master your craft. I’m so glad you asked. There are numerous great books on writing and ways to improve your craft out there. These are only a handful of resources that you could start with. Whether you write fiction or non-fiction, you need to read craft books. You also need to read other authors, particularly other authors in your genre. You can never learn too much when it comes to learning the art of storytelling. I believe these books are a great place to start. And when you buy any of these from my site,  you help me out—since I’m an Amazon affiliate.

WriteYourNovelfromtheMiddleWrite Your Novel from the Middle by James Scott Bell

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Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott

 

SnowflakeMethodHow to Write a Novel Using the Snowflake Method by Randy Ingermanson

 

BreakoutNovelWriting the Breakout Novel Workbook by Donald Maas

SavetheCatSave the Cat by Blake Snyder

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This series is part of the #Write31Days challenge. To read all the posts in this series click here.

 

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